Thursday, September 21, 2006

Save your money!

I see that his publisher has posted the table of contents for John Loftus’ magnum opus: Why I Rejected Christianity.

After the ubiquitous autobiographical filler, we get to his “cumulative” case, which consists of the following topics:

The Outsider Test For Faith…
Faith and Reason
The Christian Illusion of Rational and Morality Superiority
Does God Exist?
The Problem of Unanswered Prayer
The Lessons of Galileo, Science and Religion
Science and Creation
Science and Genesis 1-11
The Strange and Superstitious World of the Bible
-Pseudonymity in the Bible
-Archaeology, the Exodus, and the Conquest
Historical Evidence and Christianity
Do Miracles Take Place?
The Self-Authenticating Witness of the Holy Spirit
Was Jesus Born of a Virgin in Bethlehem?
“The Passion of the Christ”: Why Did Jesus Suffer?
Did Jesus Bodily Rise From the Dead?
The Devil Made Me Do It!
Hell? No!
Prophecy and Biblical Authority
The Problem of Evil
The Achilles Heel of Christianity

Then, after some more autobiographical padding, we have some appendices, including:
The Pharisees: Were They That Bad?

A few quick observations:

1.What we have are a series of stock objections to the Christian faith, viz. faith & reason, the Euthyphro dilemma, unanswered prayer, science and the Bible, ancient superstition, pseudonymity, the argument from silence, the possibility of miracles, the “myth” of God Incarnate, the Resurrection, hell, prophecy, the problem of evil, the new perspective on Paul, &c.

Clearly he has no original objections to level against the Christian faith. Just a bunch of warmed over, mouse-eaten scraps and leftovers of a bygone era.

2.For those of us who bother to monitor his blog offerings, there is obviously a good deal of duplication between his book and his blog.

And, indeed, what we’ve witnessed at his blog is not a cumulative case for atheism, but the cumulative unraveling of his case as every major argument of the Debunkers is shot down as soon as it pops its head above ground.

3.Also, if you glance at the pagination you’ll see how skimpy the treatment is on many major issues, viz. existence of God, pseudonymity, prophecy, archeology, miracles, &c.

Entire books have been written on each of these subjects. Entire books on just one aspect of each subject.

4.Needless to say, Loftus is hardly an expert on all these issues. He’s not a scientist or archaeologist.

A word of advice: save your money.

29 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Mr. Hays, it doesn't seem you've read the book which, as a fellow Christian, makes your review seem a bit... hasty. Would it (or should it) impress any of us for an atheist to do as you have and examine the table of contents or the bibliography of your new publication, This Joyful Eastertide, and scoff at the supposedly "tired" manner in which you squeeze in weary rebuttals of important criticisms? "Ha! A little over twenty pages to explore the issue of comparative mythology. And look at that! He doesn't trouble himself to investigate the most serious scholars." I can just hear it...

    While you stand amused at the table of contents, others haved moved to the meat of the book and perhaps discovered questions they cannot answer. It only takes a handful of solid blows, even in the midst of lighter stuff, to rattle the inexperienced especially if they do not know where to begin searching for the answers. If it is true that every generation must be taught afresh the things of former days, then this half-hearted yawn is a pitiful start to the process.

    I have read Loftus' book and the latter part of it which you call "autobiographical padding" is an extremely important section. Any who choose to read the book, I strongly encourage to read carefully those parts first entitled, "What I Believe Today" and "What is Life Without God?" Philosophically speaking, they provide a key to the rest of the cummulative argument, though I expect John Loftus would disagree with me here. Look to these sections and then understand that they represent the foundation upon which the edifice of his case is built. This, I hope, will help prepare any reader for a more serious reply.

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  3. Mock if you wish Steve, but I'm not only going to destroy a few of your fellow weak-minded Christians, but I'm going to make a few bucks doing it too. Once the general reading public gives my few paragraphs on each topic a quick skim, Christianity will no longer even be thought of as a legitimate world religion. Churches will close, people will see the light, unbelief will rule the day! AAhhhhaahahaha *cough* *cough*........anyway, I thought you might like to read what I put on the dedication page, "To Steve Hays, my ignorant widdle Christian apologist rival, the enemy of all the faithless, I dedicate this book. You have inspired me to organize all my blog entries and at least make some money in this meaningless empty life. Thanks, buddy."

    I know, touching isn't it? Well, I owe it all to you! Ha Ha...

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  4. I have read on this blog remarks about the stupidity of most evangelistic atheists, yet, though I know most Christians would attempt some kind of answer to Loftus' book page-for-page, few of those Christians could give serious answers to it. Those who can and are not elsewhere engaged, should.

    As our GOD is a GOD of reason, then those among us who are truly superior in intellect to the atheists who write such books have an obligation to respond well if they are to respond at all. That is the charge of Christ and fully expected of everyone who has been "given much," especially if they have been granted a precious gift for apologetical labor where others would only become lost in the treacherous morrass of skeptical discourse.

    When done well, it can be tedious and laborious work and those who are commendably busy engaging other areas or are simply idle should step out of the way.

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  5. who wants to bet that "wrightsaid" is either loftus or babinski?

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  6. No birdman argument!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It has to make the next tome.

    Squawk Squawk, Baby

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  7. At the risk of stating the obvious, Loftus has been plugging his book with a link to the publisher.

    If you follow the link, it will take you to some excerpts, including the table of contents, a forward by Babinski, and an autobiographical intro by Loftus.

    This is clearly a come-on, giving the prospective buyer reasons to purchase this title. So I’m simply answering Loftus on his own level.

    If these teasers should be treated as potential reasons to buy the book, then they should be treated as potential reasons not to buy the book.

    It cuts both ways.

    Beyond that, as I also pointed out, Loftus has a blog. And this gives us ample opportunity to sample the quality of his argumentation. I do so on a regular basis.

    So I can’t be accused of shirking my apologetic duties.

    But by the same token, why should I buy something when I can get it for free?

    If the quality of argumentation on his blog is so rotten, why should I invest in his book? Same topics. Same arguments.

    To the extent that he’s recycling his book material on his blog, what more do I need to know?

    Or are you saying that Loftus puts all the crummy arguments on his blog, but saves the good stuff for his book?

    Now, that would certain explain the quality of his blog.

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  8. No, Mr. Hays, I don't suppose he saves all the "crummy" stuff for his blog. In fact, there are a number of things on his blog that are in his book, though not so much as to encourage anyone to think that buying the book would be a waste of time. Likely, some of those portions of his book that he has made available are teasers of a sort... and you can certainly extrapolate if you like from the quality of one to the quality of the other (inductive generalizations being what they are).

    Nevertheless, it is as I said before. Loftus' arguments may appear in most places to be shabby to you, especially taken in isolation, but he tends to ask a lot of questions and demand a lot of his readers. He needs only to provide a small but solid set of cummulative punches in the 277 pages of his book to encourage doubts among his readers who cannot isolate and refute (as perhaps you can) the problems he has collected and embellished upon.

    He even knows on a certain level how to use our "language," how many Christians speak and the contexts in which their thoughts generally take shape. Unlike, say, Michael Martin, Loftus' work is not merely for academics and does not travel in those circles, though he does make use of their work.

    He is not foolish enough to pretend that his case rests squarely upon the shoulders of a few pages of argumentation. He continually quotes from other texts and suggests that those who find his case threadbare in places ought to examine the sources which he relies so heavily upon. This means that the book, by implication at least, is more thorough than a glance at the table of contents suggests.

    I am not saying that I believe that Loftus cannot be answered or that his sources cannot be answered (or even that many of them have not already been answered among conservative Christian scholars). It is merely that most Christians I know would have trouble with the book in important places. There obviously aren't a thousand Steve Hays' running about doing the LORD's work, so the fact that your knowledge or my knowledge is sufficient to refut such things only makes it incumbent upon us to reply well, if we are going to reply at all. Obviously, whatever we do is done with a view to reflecting well upon Christ.

    As for your argument that, "If these teasers should be treated as potential reasons to buy the book, then they should be treated as potential reasons not to buy the book. It cuts both ways," that really is a bit much given that you did not simply decide, in private, to ignore the work but told your readers it really was, in itself, a waste of time. Certainly you have the freedom to decide at a glance what you will spend your time on, but that's not exactly what you were doing here.

    I encourage others to simply leave such works to those who have a calling to respond to them because the LORD has commanded through Paul that we keep our minds on things which are edifying. For apologists, however, Loftus' work has a certain importance if for no other reason than that he studied under notable professionals like Bill Craig and has what many would call a credible former testimony.

    How does his testimony, for instance, reflect upon the wider opinion that such experiences are the backbone of a reliable assumption of faith? How would it effect the way we evangelize? Simon Magus, for example, also strains the prevalent notion of salvation through the "sinner's prayer."

    But I've seen two Christians on Loftus' blog already who made the profound mistake of assuming, because of these kinds of testimonies, that men like Loftus and "Exapologist" are really "backslidden." Has anyone ever heard of a "Christian Atheist"? How does that affect one's doctrine?

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  9. Thank you Wrightsaid, I'm glad to see that someone takes notice of superior apologetics, even if it isn't from his side of the fence. And I do appreciate that you mentioned that I studied under Willaim Lane Craig--not enough people know that, you know. Hey, we have a spot open at DC, so if you ever have any doubts or come to your senses about this Christianity thing, please let me know. You sound like a good candidate for our staff...

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  10. you know wrightsaid, no one is taking you seriously because you're clearly lying about being a Christian and you're cleary partisan in this instance.

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  11. Everyone knows the "W" in John W. Loftus stands for "William Lane Craig."

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  12. Thank you for the responses... This is precisely the sort of thing I mean. I know that certain atheists have taken on identities with catchy titles in order to post here and mock the contributors. I have respect for Steve Hays as an intelligent man (which means I can't be anyone from DC), I simply believe that he has applied his obvious talents to harvesting too many fields rather than praying and waiting for the LORD to send more workers. It makes his work appear spread too thin, though he keeps up the pace with a natural ability to think on his feet and throw out quick responses.

    But for those who are involved in the same work, fellow apologists, when any of us balances too great a load atop the back of our own cleverness, the crash that results affects us all. How hardened the atheists are allowed to become when they see that some of our champions pretend to an intriguing degree of prescience, refuting whole books on the basis of running their fingers along the table of contents. How difficult it is to speak to many of them who have been aided to their present cynicism because of precisely this kind of flippancy in us.

    Are those righteous anonymous among you really suggesting that I am or should become an atheist because I question anything Steve Hays has written and think better of him than he has shown with this post? I am thought to be an atheist because my standard for Christian apologetics is higher than refutations of endorsements on the back of a book? Is it because I think John Loftus is worth the time of a thorough refutation? Thank you for the welcome, brothers...

    May Christ judge between me and you.

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  13. Guys, I am about 100% sure that Wrightsaid is indeed a Christian.

    So I encourage everyone to just argue about the substance of his objection, and to weigh it against Steve's response, rather than to accuse him of being an atheist posing as a Christian. :-)

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  14. wrightsaid: I think John Loftus is worth the time of a thorough refutation.

    Thank you for reading my book and taking seriously what I wrote. I believe Christian apologists who do not take what I wrote seriously enough to try to refute my book are doing Christianity a disfavor. And while I know of other books like mine, I consider my book to be more comprehensive and thorough than any of the rest of them.

    I know of two Christians who are preparing to refute my book. One on a discussion group site, and the other on a website he is planning to set up.

    I welcome a serious investigation into the questions that I myself as a highly trained apologist could not answer to my own satisfation.

    I believe it is a one book demolition of Christianity, even if I know in advance it will not actually demolish Christianity. I just think it demolishes the Christian faith for me personally.

    Wrightsaid: He even knows on a certain level how to use our "language," how many Christians speak and the contexts in which their thoughts generally take shape. Unlike, say, Michael Martin, Loftus' work is not merely for academics and does not travel in those circles, though he does make use of their work.

    Since I am a former "insider" and since I write for the college educated Christian rather than the academic, unlike Martin, and since my book considers some of the more recent apologetic attempts to defend the faith, I believe my book is probably the most important one on the market today concerning the general case of evangelical Christianity.

    But that's just me. I'm sure if you wrote something you'd feel the same way. :-)

    Cheers.

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  15. "I have respect for Steve Hays as an intelligent man (which means I can't be anyone from DC)"

    Funny, John Loftus has said the same thing before.

    John, you're a real hoot, sqwak sqwak!

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  16. "I welcome a serious investigation into the questions that I myself as a highly trained apologist could not answer to my own satisfation."

    LOL!

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  17. John, I'll review your book if you send me a free copy.

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  18. Wrightsaid:

    the table of contents or the bibliography of your new publication, This Joyful Eastertide

    This Joyful Eastertide isn't a 'publication,' and Steve has hardly made this work the marking stick that Loftus has made his. Loftus' book, additionally, is widely promoted among the DC crowd, and considered to be the reference point for many issues.

    While you stand amused at the table of contents, others haved moved to the meat of the book and perhaps discovered questions they cannot answer.

    If they discover 'questions they cannot answer' in this work, then it was probably unwise for them to read it in the first place. So either way Steve does the church a service: he both keeps strong Christians from spending their money on this work and prevents weak Christians from stumbling. In other words, the book isn't significant enough to stock your library (why eat the regurgitation when you can have the original?), but also not helpful to biblically uninformed Christians.

    Philosophically speaking, they provide a key to the rest of the cummulative argument

    So would you say that Loftus, given his understanding, was justified in his rejection of Christianity?

    As our GOD is a GOD of reason, then those among us who are truly superior in intellect to the atheists who write such books have an obligation to respond well if they are to respond at all.

    There's a difference between responding and not buying. I don't believe Steve's point in this post was, "Everybody, offer bad responses, now!"

    though not so much as to encourage anyone to think that buying the book would be a waste of time

    From a Christian standpoint, who, exactly, would the book benefit?

    that really is a bit much given that you did not simply decide, in private, to ignore the work but told your readers it really was, in itself, a waste of time

    The teaser wasn't a private teaser but a public one. So Steve's response was a public response.

    It makes his work appear spread too thin

    Spread too thin for a blog that interacts with many topics?

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. Evanmay, thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I appreciate your desire to defend a colleague and brother in the faith. Perhaps I would attempt the same in your shoes, especially as you know Mr. Hays better than I. I'm sorry if my language as a whole and the testimony of a brother who knows me, Travis, is not sufficient to expel the unwarranted false accusations that only denigrate the Name we would perish to proclaim faithfully, with honor and precious humility.

    My purpose here should be made more clear as the numerous guesses are making things a bit crowded. It is a fundamental principle of good apologetics, in my opinion, that we take stock of the best interpretation of non-Christian views, the strongest light in which they might be understood, so that any subsequent refutation is truly sound and effective. I do think Mr. Loftus should be refuted and obviously, I do not agree that this is what Mr. Hays has done here. I also take it that you have not read the work, either?

    Responding to your first point, I'm not sure I understand the relevance of your criticism of Loftus' attempt to market and promote his book. What has this to do with its contents? Are you relying upon an ad hominem circumstantial? Given the context of Mr. Hays' comments, that is what it appears to be, though I certainly may be wrong.

    If they discover 'questions they cannot answer' in this work, then it was probably unwise for them to read it in the first place.

    This is a curious way of reasoning. So, the burgeoning apologist should not investigate any criticisms of the faith until he (or she) can answer them all?

    In other words, the book isn't significant enough to stock your library (why eat the regurgitation when you can have the original?), but also not helpful to biblically uninformed Christians.

    Now, without examining a single page, how would Mr. Hays know that the book "isn't significant enough to stock" or that it is a "regurgitation"? I realize that the topics are none of them original, though that obviously has no bearing on whether Loftus poses any particular problem in a new way or makes use of some of the newest evidence.

    But, aside from this, there are two reasons for even sophisticated Christians to have the book. The “original” arguments, many of which are gathered together by Loftus, are located in a collection of isolated works in the history of non-Christian thought, some of which are not easy to find or are scientifically and historically outdated. Few even “Biblically informed” Christians have time to seriously and extensively chop their way through Strauss’ Leben Jesu, for instance, though they will perhaps be forced to meet some of those arguments in a modern form.

    On the other hand, Loftus’ book is continually citing many modern “originals.” The list is of course selective, reflecting his experience and background, and, because his work is meant only to be an introduction to these issues, he refers his readers to them often.

    Nevertheless, as long as we apologists continue to scoff at newer material because it partially resembles the older material, the less we have to offer those who are uncomfortably confronted with it. Mr. Hays may say, “Bah, that’s been refuted,” but that’s not an answer anyone can use, especially when he’s never read what he’s denying, unless everyone is now to take Mr. Hays as inspired...

    You say that he has done a service to the rest of us but I would frankly be embarrassed to point anyone to a piece of advice rendered on so fragile a basis. If anything, others might be encouraged to take the atheist case more seriously after witnessing such a display of empty preening on our side. The atheists, meanwhile, are laughing at the hypocrisy of it all just as we would (and have) if they took themselves so seriously as to issue dogmatic proclamations without ever reading our work.

    So would you say that Loftus, given his understanding, was justified in his rejection of Christianity?

    No. He wasn’t justified in the perspective he assumed when he undertook his investigation.

    There's a difference between responding and not buying. I don't believe Steve's point in this post was, "Everybody, offer bad responses, now!"

    Then I would encourage him to lead by example.

    The teaser wasn't a private teaser but a public one. So Steve's response was a public response.

    The teaser was at least written by those who had read the book before rendering their opinion on its contents.

    Spread too thin for a blog that interacts with many topics?

    You emphasized the word “blog” as though it provided some measure of immunity. It doesn’t. Nor is it a moral right. Surely, it is not controversial to say that any public medium used by those who would presume to teach should be treated with care and that the work it proffers should be of a certain quality as it represents our LORD and reflects upon the rest of His people.

    One of the biggest apologetical problems cited is that of Christian hypocrisy and it was something Christ Himself warned against. Is it really strange to argue that when even the best of us are spread too thin, our work suffers for it?

    Simply explaining that this is the purpose of your blog only furthers my point.

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  21. Steve, as far as getting my book for "free" on my Blog there are two things you ought to know. 1) I just did a quick survey of the things I've posted on my Blog and compared that sample to my book, and roughly speaking there are 219 pages out of 278 pages of my book that are not on my Blog, although I have selected several paragraphs as teasers from many of the sections in my book. Most of what I put on the Blog is new stuff, while some of it formed the basis for what I wrote in my book, like the outsider test. But what someone will find in my book on the Outsider Test is a mature argument, the seeds of which were merely suggested on my Blog. I have also "beefed" that argument up significantly from the book and am awaiting notice of it's acceptance for publication in a scholarly journal.

    2)You critique the parts that I put on my blog, but those parts are just that, parts. Each part supports the whole, and the whole is what I consider a devestating critique of Christianity. Your piecemeal approach to critiquing my book is just that, piecemeal. In the meantime there are people whose faith is being damaged because they read the whole. And while many apologists can answer many of the problems I point out in my book, I doubt if only but a few of them can adequately deal with all of them. JP Holding even admitted this about my book. I dare say that only but the most seasoned apologists can come away from reading my book without some unanswered questions--questions which may form the seeds for future doubt.

    There are two Christians who have told me that they are using my book as a sourcebook for further study. Both of them have decided to read many of the books I refer the reader to. They think they'll be able to answer me, but I suspect that as they do this their faith will wane. In the meantime you rant and rave. Keep it up, if it makes you feel better.

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  22. Plus, a couple more things. 1) On my Blog sometimes I'm writing on the fly just to keep a discussion going, but such things are not always indicative of my level of argumentaion in my book. 2) As I am preparing for my upcoming public debate on evil, I am going to present a very solid case against theism, surpassing what I said about that problem in my book. My arguments are getting better as I go even deeper into the specifics.

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  23. I do not agree that this is what Mr. Hays has done here.

    And, of course, that wasn't the purpose of this post. If you think that able apologists should take the time to examine works from an opposing position and refute them, then I agree!

    I'm not sure I understand the relevance of your criticism of Loftus' attempt to market and promote his book

    Don't forget that I was responding to a comment you made about Steve's This Joyful Eastertide. So I was responding to you on your own grounds, showing how a comparison cannot be drawn. If Loftus' book is supposed to be the marking stick for leaving Christianity, and yet we are given nothing either unique or substantial, then what is the point?

    This is a curious way of reasoning. So, the burgeoning apologist should not investigate any criticisms of the faith until he (or she) can answer them all?

    You took my statement out of context. I was referring to weak Christians. You yourself agree that the work of apologetics, or at least extensive apologetics, is reserved for those, in your own words, who "have a calling" for that.

    Let's not forget that I had divided the church into two groups, both of which Steve's post benefited. It benefits strong Christians from spending their money, and weak Christians from confusion.

    Now, without examining a single page, how would Mr. Hays know that the book "isn't significant enough to stock" or that it is a "regurgitation"?

    I'm not sure how familiar you are with Triablogue, but we have been responding to John Loftus on a daily basis since last winter (or so). That is quite a few responses to his work and the work of his cohorts. So we are well acquainted with the nature of his arguments. Now, are you really telling me that Loftus argues one way when he is conversing with Christians, but saves all of his good arguments for his book, never to be disclosed unless one pays the $19.95?

    But, aside from this, there are two reasons for even sophisticated Christians to have the book.

    The reasons you list may indeed be benefits of the book. But they're beside the point of Steve's post. The premise for this post was "Why spend the $19.95 when you can get it for free?"

    Mr. Hays may say, “Bah, that’s been refuted,” but that’s not an answer anyone can use, especially when he’s never read what he’s denying, unless everyone is now to take Mr. Hays as inspired

    Again, Steve was responding to the teasers (and Loftus' promotion) on their own grounds. If the teaser promotes it as new and earth-shattering, and yet that same teaser has us reject such a notion...

    If anything, others might be encouraged to take the atheist case more seriously after witnessing such a display of empty preening on our side.

    Oh please. We can do without this nonsense.

    You're reading way too much into this post. This is a blog post, half-serious, half-tongue-in-cheek, written about a book teaser. This never claimed to be a refutation of Loftus' book.

    The teaser was at least written by those who had read the book before rendering their opinion on its contents

    And, again, the purpose of the teaser is so that the reader may create an opinion of the book before buying it.

    You emphasized the word “blog” as though it provided some measure of immunity

    Measure of immunity from what? From having your work spread too thin? For writing about various topics?

    Certainly, a blog does not free a Christian from good character. But it shouldn't be criticized in the way a doctoral dissertation would be.

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  24. Yes, Steve, my argumentation is getting deeper and deeper and deeper, so deep that I'm going to bring everyone down into that black abyss with me. On my blog I write things on the fly, because I think if there was a God He should have made us with wings (but we've already gone over that one) anyway, my book is the real thing because I actually had some serious "me" time, so that I could thoughtfully reflect upon my meaningless life. It's great to only live for the moment, yeah, woohoo! Steve-O.....

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  25. And CalvinDude, the "W" stands for "Wooohooo!"...

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  26. Thank you once again for offering a rebuttal and delineating another way of considering this issue, Evanmay. It is always good to hear the other side...

    I have considered what you have said in defense of your colleague, yet I have been unable to avoid a sense of unfamiliarity or foreignness in having to defend the notion that there is little integrity in pretending to have critiqued a book and sufficiently determined its uses without having ever read it. This is a basic curtesy that any of you would expect from non-Christians. In fact, isn't that precisely what Dr. James White is always complaining about in his detractors.

    Nevertheless, you are at least arguing that a significant portion of the work is familiar to you from the DC blog. I'll do the best I can to uncover those places where the prevailing attitude here remains a mystery to me...

    Concerning Loftus' promotion of his book, you said:

    Don't forget that I was responding to a comment you made about Steve's This Joyful Eastertide. So I was responding to you on your own grounds, showing how a comparison cannot be drawn. If Loftus' book is supposed to be the marking stick for leaving Christianity, and yet we are given nothing either unique or substantial, then what is the point?


    I see. You were referring to Loftus' promotion of the book as a standard. Thank you for the clarification. In brief, I will summarize the argument...

    1. Loftus' work contains no new information, all of which has been adequately answered.
    2. Loftus' work is adequately represented by his blog which is full of already refuted material.
    3. Loftus' work is insubstantial because it does not deal with any subject to the length that solid research and argumentation would demand.

    I take issue with each of these in the following way:

    Regarding your objection #1...

    1. It is hard to know whether Loftus treats some of the content in his book in a new way without encyclopedic knowledge which I do not profess to have. Further, this is an objection which deals with the content of a book which Mr. Hays has never read. Therefore, such a claim, barring other considerations, is simply bluster.

    A. At this point, the usual rebuttal is to cite #2 above. However, the testimony of Mr. Loftus that the largesse of his work (219 of 278 pages) is not represented on his blog and that even an important part of the 59 pages that are represented on his blog are rendered in weaker form would refute #2 above.

    B. One might dismiss as bluster Mr. Loftus' claim that the material on his blog is weaker than it appears in the book and, by inductive generalization, assume that 59 pages can represent the likely quality of the remaining 219, but that is, to put it mildly, a hasty generalization. Even if it turned out to be true, it still reflects poorly on us for adopting a stance based on fallacious ssumptions. In other words, it would not have represented knowledge of the weakness of the book on Mr. Hays' part, only a good guess. Is guesswork now the basis of our philosophical dominance?

    1. (...continued...) Even if Mr. Loftus' book is meant solely to stand as a compilation and modern or more concise "regurgitation" of the recent work of others, containing nothing unique save for its style of expression, it would be useful to apologists in this regard alone, standing as a basic collection and guide to the modern case against our faith.

    A. To counter this, you might argue that others have produced compilations of a higher degree of quality, such as perhaps Michael Martin's lengthier works. That would be an assessment of content, once again, which I argue above is an invalid move on the part of those who have never cracked open the book.

    Regarding your objection #2...

    I've answered this in A and B above.

    Regarding your objection #3...

    This seems more substantial on the surface of it. Surely, a work that devotes a negligible amount of space to serious issues cannot provide serious arguments. Yet, even if this inductive assumption seems strong, it isn't. Perhaps Mr. Loftus compiles the evidence into a simple but powerful argument in each section. Perhaps he then quotes from relevant works that go into greater detail and then points his readers to those works for the meat of the evidence that furthers his more concise argument. Without reading the book, you really don't know... Whatever assumptions you may privately make don't amount to knowledge.

    It is the rare Christian, apologist or otherwise, that has been exposed to and systematically refuted the hordes of arguments that are now "out there." I fully agree with you that some of those Christians do not need to be exposed to these arguments, especially in cumulative form, because they present an imbalanced testimony. As the Scriptures teach, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him" (Proverbs 18:17).

    With little education in critical reasoning these days, some of these younger Christians are apologetically isolated (because so many of their parents, their peers and even pastors have not taken I Pet. 3:15 seriously) and, without recourse to the necessary (and often scattered or difficult to reach) scholarship, their faith is severely afflicted.

    The problem is that we cannot stop them from being exposed to these kinds of things. Even if they do not read it on their own, there are those who will and who teach it in classrooms or use it to try to explode their attempts at evangelism. What will they do then? Shall they respond, "Well, Steve Hays says this stuff has been answered"?

    Right now there are already Christian youths who are reviewing the work. A published response to Loftus' popular-level work would have to be a cumulative response, a collection of refutations across a broad spectrum of recent disciplines in a single, readable work. The response could not be any more thorough than Loftus' compilation, but that would hardly be a criticism of it given its purpose. It would serve and, hopefully, some who have not the time or the sadly the conviction to wade through years of wide-ranging apologetical material would be aided by this simpler book.

    Besides, there are many Christian apologists out there who simply do not agree and would not have responded to argument X with what they perceive to be a weak refutation Y. These issues must be revisited, just as Loftus has revisited them. They've been curshed long ago? So what? How many of us know and can use this effectively? They need to be crushed again by able men...

    Finally, if you scoff at my statement that Hays' apparent flippancy with the material would encourage some not to take him seriously... if you think that it would not encourage some others to make the same kind of egregious inductive generalizations that Hays has made here, wrongly assuming that this paltry response of his represents the quality of the rest of his work... then the deceitfulness of the human heart has escaped you as well as the hypocrisy of this situation.

    Hays is certainly spread too thin when, for a lack of time, he chooses to now review works he's never read on the basis of sloppy inductive assumptions he would not appreciate being the victim of. Certainly reviewing a book and skipping the step of reading it saves time in a busy schedule but it also pushes more serious readers away.

    I know right now of mature Christian men with a serious love of apologetics that once followed the work on this blog regularly and have since abandoned it because of this kind of thing coupled with the cynical trading of substance for simple mockery that often takes place here. I still read, wading through the mockery to get at the meat, but it is getting harder.

    I think Mr. Hays has a lot to offer (as well as the other contributors) if only there were more discipline exercised in the responses and perhaps less concern with the entertainment of those who enjoy a good roast. It's your blog and you can do as you like, just as you may generously allow people like me to disagree with you openly... but I do believe that Christ cannot be glorified without a good measure of godly discipline.

    It is precisely those posts where the most rigor has been displayed which turned out to be your best and which I have saved and found most useful.

    Thank you so much for the agreeable discussion and the opportunity to air another perspective. May the LORD deafen the ears of all to anything foolish that may be contained in my words and bless the hearts of those who discern with wisdom, according to His perfect Word.

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  27. wrightsaid,

    At this point, we have both expressed our perspectives. So I'm not sure if it would benefit either one of us to drag this out further.

    I very much appreciate your motive: you want to be fair. You want to be scholarly. You want to 'do all things to the glory of God.' I greatly appreciate this.

    So I'll just respond to a few of your statements:

    isn't that precisely what Dr. James White is always complaining about in his detractors

    Since I get to witness this on a regular basis, I know that Dr. White's exasperation comes from Roman Catholics (or other opponents) who speak publicly about him but barely know his name and have only heard gossip about him. They haven't read his works, aren't familiar with his articles, and know little of his character.

    But I think that is hardly analogous to this situation, in which we are very familiar with John Loftus, and in which he is also very familiar with us.

    Further, this is an objection which deals with the content of a book which Mr. Hays has never read

    The table of contents contains chapters with titles identical to titles of articles I have read on Loftus' blog. Yes, I'm sure the "Outsider Test" is more eloquently presented in the book, but I doubt the basic construct of the argument is any different. If anything, the articles on the blog should be better than those in the book (at least in substance) because they are newer and Loftus has been able to think more deeply about them.

    he chooses to now review works he's never read on the basis of sloppy inductive assumptions he would not appreciate being the victim of.

    Again, you need to respect genre. For someone who is arguing that responses should be framed from a well-informed understanding of the opposing side, you sure are sloppy when it comes to understanding this post that you are responding to. What was the purpose of this post? It wasn't a 'review.' It wasn't even entirely serious. This post is nothing more than it claims to be: an initial teaser response to the teaser we are presented.

    but I do believe that Christ cannot be glorified without a good measure of godly discipline

    I appreciate the concern, and recognize that we can all grow.

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  28. I greatly appreciate the exchange and agree... We have expressed our sides and they shall stand as they are. Thank you for considering my side of things and I apologize if I have represented Mr. Hays poorly.

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  29. I read John's book and found it enlightening.

    Take that as you will.

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